Posts Tagged ‘Gandhi’

Assassinating Gandhi’s Character

October 2, 2015

Today is Gandhi Jayanti, and as usual, there’s no shortage of people who people who are trying to take him down. Sex is the easiest route to do so, since the man spent so much time thinking and writing about his lack of involvement with it. There’s been a long tradition of people trying to show that Gandhi had inappropriate contact with women.

For example:

It turns out, it was an Australian actor. The ripped muscles should have given it away, but at least the photo was not a fake. It was a real life masquerade. This morning, I got a photo in several channels:

That photo came with a tagline: “jan jagaran laana hai to share zaroor karein,” i.e., if you want to awaken the people, do share. As in tell the whole world that the man was a fake. You can well imagine who in today’s dispensation would want the world to awaken to Gandhi’s sins.

Except that the fake is a really bad one. One look at the woman on the left and it’s clear that she is dressed as no one would have been in Gandhi’s lifetime. This is no masquerade; it’s a fake. Here’s the original:

Perhaps the single most famous picture of Gandhi and Nehru in one frame. Except that in the doctored version, the first prime minister of India has been photoshopped out of the picture and replaced by a smiling damsel. How Freudian! There’s nothing the right wingers wouldn’t like more than to write the Nehru dynasty out of India’s history, and even better if you can throw some mud on Gandhi while doing so. I don’t know why anyone cares about whom a leader sleeps with and where, but that’s the world we live in.

Saffron friends: you can do better; at least pick a lesser known photo.


Between IS and OUGHT

October 24, 2011

When human beings investigate their own nature, they ask two seemingly different questions:

  1. Who are we?
  2. Who should we be?

The first is the province of psychology, cognitive science and increasingly, biology.  The second is the province of ethics, arts and philosophy. One of the most interesting developments in modern scholarship is how the two views of human nature are increasingly coming together. Cognitive scientists are now writing about how we ought to live our lives: e.g.,  Steven Pinker‘s new book. One might disaagree with Pinker’s claims but at least he is recognizing that the old dichotomy between IS and OUGHT is breaking down. Perhaps it is time to declare a new compact:



In other words, human reality does not distinguish between the way we live and the way things are. While one can make a distinction between the two, the separation between what is and what one should do has no ultimate truth attached to it. It might be useful to think of the two ways of looking at human natures as two stances: the objective stance and the ethical stance.  There are several ways of bridging the gap between the two stances: appropriate design and emancipative politics are two important means. In his thoughful essay on Gandhi as a thinker  Akeel Bilgrami argues that Gandhi’s conception of truth involves a natural flow from the perception of truth to moral action, satyagraha, that is just another facet of the same truth. While philosophers should read Pinker, it might also be useful for cognitive scientists to read Gandhi.